31st August 2020

The Most Chilling Words Ever 

“Now the Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?’”
1 Samuel 16:1 (NKJV) 

Did Saul ever get to hear what God had said of him to Samuel, I wonder? The story was that king Saul had deliberately disobeyed what he had been told to do by Samuel, and so it was a case of Saul rejected God; God rejected Saul. Saul remained as king for many years afterwards before David replaced him; so Saul had plenty of time to repent, to change, to become the king that God had wanted him to be. But he just didn’t.

And so we have recorded what must be about the most chilling comments ever made by God of anyone. Imagine if God ever said that of us. We’re not likely ever to be made kings in this life and, in the New Testament God, as far as we know, has never said that about anyone. Today we have a great High Priest who pleads our cause when we sin and fall over. And, thanks to Christ and his ever-living love for us, grace covers us and we are forgiven and can start again.

Many Christians look out over this world and have come to the conclusion that our society has gone far beyond the pale. But unlike Samuel, we haven’t received any word that we should cease to pray for this world and its people. God has concern for all humanity, whether they know him or not. And we have no mandate to give up on them on prayer—God hasn’t. And there is so much to pray about. Not only are nations in turmoil, our towns and cities are too. People get sick and all kinds of circumstances buffet human beings, including financial and employment difficulties. The current distress with Covid-19 is a case in point. That has affected every one of us to one degree or another. And of course many have lost their lives to the virus. No, rather than God having given up on this world, he has provided many opportunities for us in prayer, to see that we fulfil the command of loving one another through prayer.

Prayer
Gracious Father, we do sigh and cry for the abominations that beset this world. You created it ‘very good’, and we have corrupted it into ‘very bad’. Help us to help this world and its people by labouring in prayer for them. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen
 

Study by John Stettaford

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About the Author:
John Stettaford is an Elder in the Reading Congregation of Grace Communion International UK.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion Reading
Prospect School, Room A1 (Main Building)
Honey End Lane
READING
RG30 4EL

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11am

Local Congregational Contact:
John Stettaford
Phone:  07710-935735
Email: reading@gracecom.church

30th August 2020

Come Drink 

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it…Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
Isaiah 55:10-11, 13 (ESV) 

I remember as a teenager working in the apple orchard with my grandfather, when he would ask for the water jug so he could have a long drink of ‘Adam’s ale’. And just as water refreshes physically, when we are in a spiritual workout, nothing satisfies more than God’s word.

Much of Israel, where the words (see above) were written, is arid. Precipitation means the difference between not just a bad and good harvest, but sometimes between life and death. In these words from Isaiah, God talks about his Word, his creative presence engaging with the world. The metaphor he uses, over and over, is water, rain and snow—refreshing and life-giving and signs of God’s presence.

Look at verse 13 again: “Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle”. It’s the reverse to what we find in Genesis, at the Garden of Eden. There the curse when Adam and Eve were thrown out was that thorns and thistles would come up from the earth. Here, the reverse—the promise of blessing and abundance.

In out time, especially in the West, our water needs are more than met daily. But we still have to deal with aridity and thorns and thistles within our hearts. We find ourselves in a soul-desert. We need, desperately, for the sweet rain and renewal of God to fall on us. Fellowship, worship and serving the broken are the nourishing, replenishing places where we need to meet God.

Prayer
Holy Father, we tire of the appetites of this world which harvest only thorns and thistles, ending in deadness, the result of lust. We ask for you to nourish us with your flowing refreshing water. And this we ask in Jesus’ name.
Amen
 

Presented by Greg Williams

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About the Presenter:
The Day by Day each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life,’ (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International. Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International and lives in North Carolina, USA.

Local Congregation:
You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland.  For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Contact:
Email:  admin@daybyday.org.uk

29th August 2020

Love Survives!

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”
Leviticus 19:18 (NIV)

There was a group of religious people in Jesus’ day who gave him a hard time during his ministry whose constant goal was to shame and discredit him. The culture of the Middle East at that time was, and still is today, an honour culture. They complained constantly about what he did or did not do, according to their very own standard of righteousness. Pharisee was their title, meaning the separated ones! They prided themselves on being super-righteous and strangely enough, they specialised in ‘Social Distancing’ as a way of life! Not because of some virus or contagious disease, but because of their desire to protect their ceremonial cleanliness, which apparently became ‘defiled’ if they touched anyone who did not keep the rules in the Torah, the law of God as revealed to Moses and recorded in the first five books of the Hebrew scriptures! They religiously avoided the common people and would not so much as brush shoulders with them, or even look at them. Another part of their practice was to wash their hands often. Not just the hands but right up to the elbows!

Today we are doing this ourselves, not to avoid defilement, but to save our lives and the lives of others; not to earn brownie points with God. But just imagine living the whole of our lives with these restrictions—most of us are fed up with it after just a few months. Simply expressed, it is ‘Loving our neighbour as ourselves.’ This means being deeply concerned about their lives as well as our own. Jesus himself commands us to do this as a way of life. Notice in Galatians 5:14, the Apostle Paul echoes his words, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself!’”

One day this virus and all the social distancing will be gone but I pray that our love and care for others will survive long after and that it has become a way of life. Love always survives you know. Once again, Paul hits the nail on the head in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”!

Prayer
Thank you, Great Father, for giving us instructions about loving and caring for everyone we come into contact with during our journey through life.
Amen

Study by Cliff Neill

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About the Author:
Cliff Neill is an Elder in Grace Communion Church Luton where he is on the Leadership Team.

Local  Congregation:
Grace Communion Church Luton
Farley Hill Methodist Church
North Drift Way
Farley Hill
LUTON
LU1 5JE

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Shirley McLean
Phone:  01442-780783
Email: luton@gracecom.church

28th August 2020

The Antidote to Boredom 

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
1 Timothy 6:6 (NIV)

I thought I’d write something about boredom. Trouble is it can seem boring to read something about boredom, but give it a go. Boredom is a subtle, well-disguised enemy. Because of boredom:
*People raid the fridge and comfort eat;
*Teenagers congregate, clicking their heels on street corners and end up in trouble;
*Husbands or wives give up on their marriages and betray trust;
*Employees march out of their jobs; and
*Christians leave churches they are a part of, or split it by taking others with them.

Boredom fuels the fantasy that the grass is greener somewhere else. Boredom can lead to becoming jealous of others who live their lives at a greater speed, have more gadgets, more toys and more money. But is the answer to boredom simply having more ‘things’? Children today have access to hundreds of TV stations and computer games. The internet has made the world their oyster, and yet how often do parents hear the cry, ‘I’m bored’? Living in the West during the 21st century provides us with so many ‘things’ and opportunities our grandparents didn’t have a hundred years ago, and are simply not available to many in certain parts of the world. And yet how often do we sit at our PCs with our cups of coffee, with the world at our finger tips and think ‘I’m bored’?

Boredom robs us of being content with our life, and perhaps therein lays the solution to the problem. If we were more content we would be less bored. In Philippians 4:11-12 Paul says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” So what is the secret of being content in whatever circumstance we find ourselves? Paul goes on in verse 13, “I can do all this [to be content in every situation] through him who gives me strength.” To which the writer of Hebrews adds, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews13:5).

So when boredom strikes and we are itching for something more or different, ask Jesus for the strength to be content. Hold on to the promise that God will always be with us whatever our circumstances. Having God with us and strengthening us means life never need be boring. We can be content with him, for he is the only one who will truly satisfy. Recognising that is great gain.  

Prayer
Father, fill me with the joy and satisfaction of contentment in Christ all the days of my life.
Amen

Study by Barry Robinson

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About the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder and part of the National Ministry Team directing Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. He is also a pastoral worker in the South of England, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion International Central London
Indian YMCA
Mahatma Gandhi Hall
41 Fitzroy Square
LONDON
W1T 6AQ

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2:30pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Barry Robinson
Email:   london@gracecom.church

27th August 2020

Christians as Christ’s Aroma

“For we are the aroma of Christ to God…”
2 Corinthians 2:14-15 (NRSV)

I’ve heard it said, and I’m sure you have too, that the best way of selling a house is to fill it with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee (not instant) and some freshly baked bread. I don’t know how much truth there is in that: I have sold four houses and I cannot bake bread but nevertheless I did find some buyers.
Many flowers also give off a pleasing scent, or aroma. A few weeks ago my daughter and her family came to lunch. Their daughter was asked to give my wife the customary bunch of flowers. She did so, but before she handed them over she poked her nose into them and showed she liked the scent. And she is not yet quite two years old.
And my final example of a pleasing aroma, or scent, is of perfume when we enter a department store. They are often arranged so that you first meet the fragrance counters, and I’m sure that’s deliberate.

Our reading or header scripture, is in the context of warfare; or  more precisely, what happens after the battle is over. Assuming the general’s army is triumphant, they parade before him with everything that depicts the victory. There are tablets showing the battles; there are the spoils, and lastly come captives. Throughout the procession incense is offered as a pleasing aroma to emphasize to the general how proud he should be of his troops. Paul draws our attention to the spiritual significance of this. Jesus Christ is the marshal of the army and we are His troops. And who is the General before whom the procession takes place? God the Father. 2 Corinthians 2:14 says “thanks be to God who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession…” Or, as the hymn goes, ‘Onward Christian soldiers marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before.’

Paul continues in verse 14, “through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing Him.” Yes, we are God’s army and our work is to spread the gospel. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” says Matthew 28:19, “baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” But Paul tells us more than that. In verse 15 he writes, “We are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved.” How can that be? When people see us they should be seeing Jesus Christ even if they don’t realise it. How?  Because the way we live our lives should be the very example of their meeting Jesus Christ. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Paul is telling us a lot in these verses in 2 Corinthians 2: he is saying that God is pleased when our lives show Jesus Christ to the people around us even if they don’t know we are Christians. Jesus’ very life and nature should be reflected in us. That is what is most pleasing to Him and the Father.

Prayer
Praise You, Father God, for calling us into the army of Christ. May our witness be as a sweet aroma to You and all whom we meet, through Christ our Lord and Leader.
Amen

Study by Christopher Reeve

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About the Author:
Christopher Reeve is assistant pastor of the Invicta (Blean) Congregation near Canterbury, which is part of Grace Communion International/Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Invicta Fellowship
Blean Village Hall
School Lane
Blean
CANTERBURY
CT2 9JA

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11.30 a.m.

Local Congregational Contact:
Mrs Annette Woods
Phone: 07473 188326
Email: annettewoods2@nhs.net

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